Florida's 'stand your ground' law doesn't apply in city commissioner's murder case, state attorney says

A Florida city commissioner who allegedly shot and killed a suspected shoplifter attempting to leave his store was charged with his murder Friday.

Michael Dunn, 47, a Lakeland city commissioner since January, faces a second-degree murder charge that carries up to life in prison, the Ledger of Lakeland reported. He was being held in the Polk County jail without bond.

State Attorney Brian Haas the case didn't fit Florida's stand-your-ground law.

“It is the policy of my office to comply with and abide by the stand-your-ground law,” he said. “However, I have determined that this case, and the actions of Mr. Dunn, fall outside of the protection of the stand-your-ground law.”

Authorities believe Dunn confronted Christobal Lopez, a 50-year-old homeless man, at a Vets Army & Navy store on Oct. 3 after suspecting Lopez of shoplifting.

Lopez was trying to leave the store with a hatchet stuff in his pants when Dunn confronted him, police said at the time of the shooting. Surveillance video shows Dunn grabbing Lopez and then allegedly shooting him. Lopez later died from his injuries.

Dunn's attorney, Rusty Franklin, said his client acted out of self-defense.

“We will offer evidence in this case that (Dunn) was confronted by an armed shoplifter with an ax,” he said. “It was in his hand. A video only shows 10 seconds of what happened. There were other witnesses in the store. I don’t know what they said to the grand jury or to the police, but I have conducted interviews of them and they believe that Michael was acting in self-defense.”

Dunn will likely be suspended from office by Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the coming days, Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz said.